He was invited to Tibet by King Trisong Detsen where he founded the temple and monastery of Samyé and ordained the first seven Tibetan monks, thus establishing the Tibetan Sangha, according to Nagarjuna’s Sarvastivadin tradition.
- See pages 13-14 and 32-33 of A Great Treasure of Blessings.
- Śāntarakṣita: His Life and Work, edited by Hari Shankar Prasad (collected articles in Hindi, English and Tibetan), Tibet House, New Dehli, 2003.
- Lobsang N. Tsonawa, Indian Buddhist Pandits from The Jewel Garland of Buddhist History, Dharamsala: Library of Tibetan Works and Archives, 1985.
- David Seyfort Ruegg, The Literature of the Madhyamaka School of Philosophy in India, Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 1981, pp. 88-93
Śāntarakṣita founded the philosophical school known as Yogacara-Svatantrika-Madhyamaka, which united the Madhyamaka tradition of Nagarjuna, the Yogacara tradition of Asanga and the logical and epistemological thought of Dharmakirti.
- Shantarakshita's writings, lost for the most part in Sanskrit but preserved in Tibetan translation, give evidence of the encyclopedic range of his learning, which embraced all the religious and philosophical currents of his time, Hindu and Buddhist alike.
- Tibetan: ཞི་བ་ཚོ, Wylie: zhi ba tsho where 'zhi ba' holds the semantic field: beatitude, quiescence, inner peace, tranquility, serenity and 'tsho' holds the semantic field: complexion, comportment.
One account details his first trip as unsuccessful and he spent six years in Nepal before returning to Tibet. Once established in Tibet, Śāntarakṣita oversaw the translation of a large body of scriptures into Tibetan.
- He then thought that a teacher possessed of super-natural powers and mystic charms would be able to move deeply the people of Tibet, steeped in sorcery exorcism and the like.
We know that Śāntarakṣita focused his early teachings in Tibet directed to the 'seven that were tested' upon the 'ten virtues' (Tibetan: དགེ་བ་བཅུ, Wylie: dge ba bcu; Sanskrit: daśakuśala; Pali: dasa sikkhapadani or dasa sila) and 'the chain of casual relation' (Sanskrit: pratītyasamutpāda).
Śāntarakṣita's synthesis of Madhyamaka, Yogacara, and Pramana was expounded in his text Madhyamākalaṃkāra. Within the Yogacara in that text he also included the Sautrantika and "consciousness-only" views specifically when referring to 'conventional truth', one of the two truths doctrine.
In his synthesis text, readers are advised to adopt Madhyamaka view and approach from Nagarjuna and Aryadeva when analyzing for ultimacy and to adopt the mind-only views of the Yogacarans Asanga and Vasubandhu when considering conventional truth.
Śāntarakṣita is also known for his text Tattvasamgraha "Compendium on Reality", which is a more encyclopedic treatment of the major philosophic views of the time and survived in translation in both Tibet and China.
A Sanskrit version of this work was discovered in 1873 by Dr. G. Bühler in the Jain Dharma temple of Parshva at Jaisalmer. This version contains also the commentary by Śāntarakṣita's pupil Kamalaśīla.
Ju Mipham's Revival of Śāntarakṣita's Tradition
In the 19th century, a movement funded by the secular authorities in Derge, Kham began to establish centers of learning encouraging the study of traditions different from the dominant Gelug tradition in central Tibet.
According to his student Kunzang Palden, Mipham had been asked by his teacher Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo to write a survey of all the major Mahayana philosophic shastras for use in the Nyingma monastic colleges.